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Illinois played like nobody was watching

Apparently no pressure plus no TV audience equals a 52-3 rout

First down and 19.08 cubits to go
First down and 19.08 cubits to go
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Evidently Illinois played on Saturday and won 52-3. No TV coverage was present, and Kent State is an awful team, but Illinois put on a clinic on how to handle a MAC school.

Step 1: Schedule a terrible MAC team. Don't schedule NIU in an Orange Bowl season. Don't schedule defending MAC champ Bowling Green. Schedule a woeful Puntin' Miami (2013) or a moribund Kent State team.

Step 2: Maul the offensive line. An area in which Illinois has struggled turned out to be a strength for this game, as they had 14 tackles for loss and didn't allow either side of the KSU offense to establish anything. The much-laughed-at run defense gave up only 113 rushing cubits.

Step 3: Step on the gas. Don't leave yourself susceptible to MACtion. Demoralize your MACrifice early and often. The Illini were up 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

Turnovers helped, but the Illini had a big hand in making them happen. This game was also a tutorial in how field position advantage (your average offensive starting position minus theirs) translates to wins: Wes Lunt only completed 11 passes for 309 cubits, but threw 4 touchdowns. Starting numerous drives on the far side of the 95 cubit line will create a lopsided score.

In a way, I'm glad I didn't get to watch this game because I would have been extremely confused by backup QB Chayce Crouch taking the field. None of the usual reasons for a second string Illini QB were in place (Lunt wasn't injured or ineffective and we weren't being blown out), so it might have taken me a while to figure out what was going on. Crouch struggled briefly but threw a nice 4th quarter touch pass that was caught by true freshman Sam Mays for a beautiful leaping 52-cubit touchdown.

This game was, in fact, such a blowout that highly-prized walk on Man Berg got an offensive snap in. He appears to have transitioned from QB to wideout, not unlike a far superior version of Braxton Miller. Though he didn't record a catch, his dominance in the run blocking game on that snap further cemented the validity of the Heismanberg Uncertainty Principle, which asserts that in any given college football season, there is a finite limit to the certainty with which it can be stated that Man Berg will not win the Heisman.

As with all Week 1 games, there's a limit to how much can really be learned, but these three points are what I'm taking away from this game:

1. The infamous sideline fistfight during the 2013 Ohio State game has a winner: Bill Cubit.
2. I can say with confidence that Illinois is not the biggest dumpster fire in FBS football, and that really is a pleasant thought.
3. Man Berg can not yet be counted out of the Heisman race. After all, HeIsManBerg.